Intestinal Transplant Allows Teen to Eat for First Time in Years
Photo: Video by kmtv.com
Omaha, NE - Tyson Smith got sick with H1N1 when he was 11 years old. Doctors aren't sure exactly why, but for some reason he couldn't fight that illness. He just got sicker and sicker. His parents say at one point he was down to 42 pounds. His intestines stopped working. Tyson was on feeding tubes for years.
Over the years, doctors have told him more than once that he likely wouldn't survive. As one would imagine, Tyson said that news is difficult to hear, "it's a very surreal moment, and sadly we've been through that a lot."
The family from Sharon Springs, Kansas went to different hospitals hoping for other treatment options.
Just last month he got an intestinal transplant at The Nebraska Medical Center. In all, doctors transplanted an intestine, pancreas and liver. Tyson can now eat. In fact he was able to eat birthday cake at his 17th birthday. He hadn't had birthday cake in six years.
Surgeons at The Nebraska Medical Center have performed nearly 400 intestinal transplants since the program started in the 1990s. They've done more of these procedures than any place in the world.
A lot of people still don't realize this surgery is a possibility. Tyson's transplant surgeon, Dr. David Mercer said, "it's not just patients who don't know you can do intestinal transplants, there are physicians who don't know because it's a fairly specialized field."
Tyson's prognosis is very good. He's staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Omaha for the next couple months to be close to his doctors. He told us, "there was the possibility I couldn't be here and now i'm here. It's like a new life."